Vincent Van Gogh: Stars and Mystery

In the second half of XIX century a new painting school was born. It was impressionism. Impressionism has always been a special part of art. The word ‘impressionism’ derives from ‘impression’. Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissaro and Edgar Degas created a new, bright and expressive art stream that gave an impression to the audience.

Vincent Van Gogh was born at about 11am, 1853, March 30 near a small village Groot-Zundert in the Netherlands. Vincent was always a strange boy, quiet, thoughtful and serious. In 1869, he started working for Goupil & Cie in Hague as an art dealer. It was his first touch with art. In the 1880’s he attended the Academy of Arts in Brussels and Antwerp. In Brussels, Van Gogh created his first major work ‘The Potato Eaters’. However, his most famous and well-known painting ‘Starry Night’ was created nine years later. He created this piece at a peak in his artistry. He painted it in 1889 while he was in an asylum in Saint-Remy; it took only a few days for him to create and he did it from memory. An interesting fact, it is the only painting that painter sold in his life.

On this painting, we can see a small sleeping town or village with cypress and the tower of a church under the night sky, stars and Moon. A simple idea, but Van Gogh made this painting in very special, ‘impressionist’ manner. The stars, Moon and clouds look fantastic. They are not just sparks of light or streaks on a black night sky. They are twisted, twirled, and spiraled. They are playing and dancing. They are bright, dynamic and full of life. The town, church, cypress, Moon, stars and whole sky created with wild and short strokes. The stars and Moon are yellow and the sky is dark blue. Everyone who has seen this painting once never forgets it. This image is definitely the most unusual art of Van Gogh. Usually he painted real people, real landscapes, and real life (of course, in his specific style.) His ‘Starry Night’ is different and looks non-real, not-from-this-world as well as his other works: ‘Road with Cypress and Star’ and ‘Wheat Field with Cypresses.’

Critics tried to recognize several times what town and stars that the painter put on his canvas. Some presumed that this was the view from window in the asylum in Saint-Remy but this is not true; no attempts to recognize the town have been successful. For example, on Van Gogh’s painting ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’ we can clearly see the Big Dipper constellation. Some critics have speculated about eleven stars; referring to the story of Joseph from the Old Testament ‘Look, I have had another dream’ he said, ‘I thought I saw the sun, the moon and eleven stars, bowing to me.’, Genesis 37:9. It might be possible because Vincent Van Gogh was religious person but it is not clear. Anyway, it is still open for interpretation. This painting made Vincent Van Gogh a very famous person; this is probably his most popular work. It has influenced me as well.

The first time I saw the reproduction of this painting when I was an early teenager. The magnificence of Starry Night’s beautiful yellow stars and blue moon imprinted in my mind. The deep colors and the fascinating view of the night tree and town with a small church attracted me. I have always liked night skies view. I could watch it hour after hour. Thousands of stars, the Milky Way and the endless depths of the dark cosmos mesmerize me. However, the moment that I looked at Van Gogh’s Starry Night I suddenly realized the brilliant scene that exceeded the regular sky, which shortly became boring. These twirled stars and bright Moon were so dynamic and full of life I could not stop looking at it. It is warm unlike the cold stars and Moon. Looking at ‘Starry Night’ I felt like sand in an endless cosmos’s space. This painting seems so mysterious to me; it has some enigma that I cannot resolve despite my efforts to do so.

This artwork once captured my thoughts so strongly that I had a wonderful dream about it. In my dream, I watched the twilight town and dark blue skies exactly as it appears in Van Gogh’s painting. I watched the sky and saw how the giant twirled stars started to descend from the sky down, spinning and twirling. I think Vincent Van Gogh expressed endless and eternal nature of cosmos and breathtaking beauty of night sky perfectly. He showed the mystery of the stars that humans can feel but cannot understand. This mystery and these skies are still wonderful and fascinating.

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